Sheriff Joe Arpaio Apologizes to Sex-Crime Victims for Mishandled Cases; Deputies Resign After Internal Probe

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio apologized today to the victims of El Mirage sex-crimes cases that went uninvestigated due to incompetent police work under his watch.

"Sometimes these kinds of things occur in big departments like (the Maricopa sheriff's office)," Arpaio said during a press conference today, as tweeted by Arizona Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez just now. "If there were any victims, I apologize."

We're not sure what Arpaio meant by "if" there were victims.

The internal investigation of the bungled cases, which apparently has been going on since May of 2008, centered on five deputies and two detectives, all of whom have since resigned, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan told Wingett Sanchez and other reporters at the press conference.

Sheridan said the investigation should be finished this week.

But don't expect to learn who they were anytime soon: They still have to go through an internal discipline and appeal process, and MCSO took months to do that for former Captain Joel Fox, who was accused of helping Arpaio raise funds illegally for his 2008 campaign.

Arpaio said he doesn't want to throw anyone "under the bus" because of the bungled cases.

And that makes sense, because if you read the above-linked East Valley Tribune article, (which won the Pulitzer prize,) you'll recall that the problem in El Mirage wasn't committed in a vacuum. It was linked to the sheriff's grandstanding on illegal immigration, and also his reliance on former Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott despite knowing Hendershott's ethical weaknesses.

In other words, it was another failure of leadership.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern